Sunday, 31 December 2017

My health during 2017

This year has been a little challenging health-wise and so I thought I'd record a few points, mostly for my own benefit as I enjoy looking back on posts a few years later.

Eyesight

Images of my retina and healing central serous retinopathy

I have been affected by a condition called Central Serous Retinopathy since 2004.  Straight lines appear wobbly and distorted.  This is caused by a tiny little leak in the retina which then no longer lies flat, hence the distorted vision.

A longer term effect is a dulling of the eye's vision, something to do with nutrients not getting through to the retina. So with my left eye, the world appears to be viewed by a mid grey lens with the very centre not being clearly defined.

A routine eye examination earlier this year at the opticians resulted in being referred to Moorfields Eye Hospital in Bedford.  To cut a long story short, I had some eye drops with the instruction to have four drops a day, instead of the normal three.  This led to a very quick improvement which was little short of being remarkable.  

The eye drops, however, are a short term fix and I probably need to start another course again soon. If squint at my screen through my left eye, I can't read a thing, even wearing glasses.  Aside from the definition being pretty hopeless, all lines are wavy - the text, the edge of the screen and the menu bars top and bottom.

At least I can still function as my right eye is pretty good.

Blood pressure

Very unexpectedly my blood pressure started to creep up in early 2017.  We have a monitor at home and from time to time I'd check my blood pressure and it has been fine over the months and years.  

However, from March 2017 it was rising further, sometimes 150/100 and so I went to the Doctor.  After various appointments I was prescribed a low dose tablet which didn't have enough effect.  The Doctor wasn't too concerned about that as it was easy to adjust the dose and get the pressure right.  The concern was about the effect of high blood pressure on my kidneys.

As I've had a general check up most years since 2004, the Doctor appreciated having an historical record of my creatinine readings.  Creatinine is some kind of protein which is filtered out by the kidneys.  The lower reading the better.  Apparently my readings from 2004 to 2015 were good and at the lower end of the scale, meaning my kidneys were working fine.  Being vegetarian is, or so I am told, kinder on the kidneys.

Date – Creatinine mol/L

2004 – 75
2006 – 73
2010 – 79
2014 – 56
2015 – 64
2017 March – 163 and 154
2017 May - 159
2017 November – 200
The latest is my Doctor is referring me to a consultant at the hospital to investigate the cause and decide what to do.  He is also concerned that the Lisinopril blood pressure medication is masking an even higher creatinine reading.  With this in mind I need to come off Lisinopril and have a further blood test two weeks later.  That is what I'm in the middle of right now. 
I mentioned to the Doctor that running and cycling is really hard work these days.  I explained, as an example, my 2015 marathon pace was quicker than my everyday runs in 2017.  He remarked on me being a couple of years older and that's bound to make a difference.  I responded by saying I don't believe it that completely accounts for my lack of performance.  He looked at his screen and checked all of the other blood tests I've had this year and said everything else was fine.  The creatinine (and urea) readings were the only abnormalities and this could not be explained by him or myself.  My kidneys, he said, would have to be in a far-worse condition before I was exhibiting the symptoms of failing kidneys.  In other words, failing kidneys only show their symptoms much later on.
Thankfully I have only rarely gone to the Doctor about anything beyond having a periodic check-up.  Before this blood pressure issue, I had had only one prescription in 25 years.  Consequently I don't know him and he doesn't know me.  Having said that there were a couple of times when I had a really good conversation with my Doctor, more than the usual quick chat and calling the next patient in as soon as possible.  We have talked about the benefits of juicing, eating raw foods and how exercise is vitally important from a physical and mental health perspective.  
I felt as if he was getting to know me, encouraging me to keep eating a good vegetarian diet, running and cycling.  He's explained in conversation how avoiding stress is important as it can diminish our immunity and that's not just for coughs and colds.  Some cancers and other serious illnesses can be triggered by stress.  

Being realistic

As I am almost 56 I suppose I shouldn't be surprised in having one or two health issues, although I'd prefer to have none.  Raised blood pressure and eyesight issues aren't too bad in the grand scheme of things. As I am naturally a "half full" and optimistic I would like to think there is a good solution to these issues, or perhaps there is a lesson for me to learn.  While it is true I am pretty healthy and fit, I am not immortal. I should be learning to be gracious about this, to accept it and be thankful for the good health I enjoy and the things I can do.

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